THE EDGY, ELEGANT SOFITEL MEETS CELESTICON (SEPTEMBER 2011)
So when I heard that Celesticon was going to be at Sofitel Hotel I was immensely interested. It's an awesome hotel and a class act. There's an edgy elegance to the hotel with old echoes of Old Europe to it. If you doubt that just look at these pictures (more on my Facebook):
I wasn't sure if I would attend this con or Pacificon but as most of my gaming friends and the majority of good Gms migrated over to Celesticon it became an easy choice. The fact that the hotel was roughly ten minutes away from me made it even sweeter.
Turned out this was a great little con. I plan to attend next year and before I continue with this lengthy blog:
MY OVERALL GRADE: B plus to A minus (higher than Kubla and Dundracon for this year)
If you just want to skim you can check the bottom of each game for check highlights. Also, my comparison of this con to Pacificon is at the very bottom.
Onward . . .
FRIDAY ---- before the evening game
After making sure the parking was really free I wandered into the front lobby and followed the noise of distant laughter (not slaughter) that led me to the front tables for the con. Signing up was fast and simple. I saw a lot of people I knew and as I was there around 1pm or so I think there were somewhere between 50-100 people lounging in that area. The dealer rooms were still setting up so out of curiousity I went upstairs to check the gaming rooms and was pleasanty surprised when I came to the Junior Executive Board Room:
FRIDAY --- Gil T's DELTA GREEN COC game
Berlin 1945: With the city surrounded by the Red Army, a lone glider flies into the
flames and ruin, carrying a group of Allied agents, haunted veterans on a final
mission that will take them from this world at war to a land of dreams, where the
SS and their occult research division known as the Karotechia have built Project
HODDMÍMIR, the final gambit to escape their reckoning. Mature themes, adult
Gil's game was in the session zero slot so you couldn't even use a priority slip to assure yourself of getting into the game. But fortunately I was able to move some things around and arrive around opening time. Morgan H. was there, too, as I had warned him that he couldn't use his priority slip so he got down to the con early, too.
It turned out that four of the six people in his game were regulars in the con circuit. The con regulars were myself, Morgan, Mike G. and a guy named Paul who had been in Gil's games previously. Incidentally, Morgan, Mike G. and I had all tried to get into this game at Khubla 2011 but failed and ended up in Jill S's fun HOWARD PROJECT game.
I typically go for the talkers but I rolled pretty bad so the talkers were gone by the time it was my turn so I decided to go with the combat dude (male version of Wambaugh) because you always need a combat guy to take the fall for the group later in the game. Somewhat surprisingly, I didn't die though a majority of the other players did bite it.
There were lots of fun props but my favorite was the one in which Morgan got this one in his secret orders:
Well, Gil made him sweat it out for about a minute (Morgan said he was trying to make it look like he was reading) before he gave him some real orders and then we got to see the blood splattered note which was a nice touch.
Without giving spoilers I'd say it was a fun adventure that focused upon the desperation and depravity in Berlin days before it fully would fall to the Allies. The Dreamlands was the most evocative part and being a fan of Norse Mythology I truly enjoyed several of the scenes, especially the unspoken words of Odin shortly after the death of his son.
I'm also glad my gruff character possibly got to save a brainwashed Hitler Youth kid named Mikki who may have made it to Switzerland but that is another story and he needed the Meth, Dodge. Really.
I'm glad two “new” gamers got to play with us Gil Veterans and that there was “B” quality chemistry all around the table.
Highlights of the game (mostly detailed above) for me were:
- The trick played on Morgan H.;
- Watching Morgan miss roll after roll in the beginning;
- The many props (Gil is one of the Prop Kings and should be given a crown, I say!);
- The fusion of Norse Mythology in the Dreamlands; and
- the details of desperation in the Nazi bunker, especially at the bar.
- Playing around the kick ass conference table!!!
- BAD: nothing comes to mind. I just wanted to freak Gil out a bit if he reads this part. Hey, Gil! LOL
- NEUTRAL (** BIT OF A SPOILER **): I think my character was better suited for staying behind but my only PC friend prompted me to enter The Dreamlands. I had a lot of fun there but I'm not sure if my character was supposed to stay behind or not or if it didn't matter.
SATURDAY MORNING/AFTERNOONI got back home around 3am in the morning. There was no way I was going to do Dovi's 9am game for 8 hours and then my ten hour game, especially when I realized I had some paper errors and had to spend at least an hour or longer reprinting things. So I slept in very late and got up to prep and then it was off to do my game.SATURDAY EVENING --- MY CDA HERE BE DRAGONS game878 A.D.
The Kingdom of Wessex.The dragon banners of King Alfred have defeated the Viking/Danish forces atEthandun, making their leader, Guthrum the Unlucky, bend the knee and receivebaptism as a sign of his goodwill. Wessex was fortunate to have won Ethandunas it was a close battle. If they had lost then Wessex likely would have turnedinto a Danish colony and Alfred‚s dream of a united England (which still didn‚texist at the time) would have never been.During this peaceful time a group of fledgling investigators are given leave to goon holiday. One of the investigators has an invitation to a village wedding andhe's gracious enough to invite the other investigators along. But holidays aren‚talways what they‚re expected to be and dark forces could be at work that makecertain Alfred‚s dream of a united England never come to fruition.This is an introductory adventure for Cthulhu Dark Ages. Those unfamiliar withCthulhu should consider it something of the opposite of Dungeons & Dragons.Think gritty investigators up against horrors that are usually defeated withcunning. Brawn will usually get you killed. This game contains mature themes.
CHARACTERS: there will be 2 female characters and 4 male characters.Roughly 2 will be scholars; 2 will be fighting men; and 2 will be "Jack/Jills of alltrades".
So I decided to run HBD one more time at a con because some people asked and I hoped it would be better than my mixed experience at Khubla.
In hindsight the Khubla game was more a disappointment than a bad game, especially after the Dundracon game. I'd say what could have been an “A minus” experience game for me was more of a “B minus to B” game but that's probably me just being hard on myself as a GM.
This time around I was lucky to have a group of not only strong roleplayers but people who got on famously at the table. I had Gil T, Mike G., Dovi A, Jason M and two of Dovi's friends who I met for the first time (Chris and Steve).
There were some nice twists and surprises as a GM that I never had in previous games and I'd say everybody really dug into the meat of roleplaying their particular characters. Jason pulled a nice surprise on Chris and tried to get Dovi but got blocked by the black story chip. Mike G. almost died a couple of times and seemed shaken as a player that something like this could happen in Cthulhu which almost made Gil bust out laughing after we talked about the endgame as well as the fact that I had made combat a bit less arduous.I did rush things along early on to get the catalyst going right away (i.e. In some past games I don't reveal the catalyst part until 2 or more hours in but then you suffer the problem of rushing the finale) because I was paranoid from the Khubla game in which the group spent a bit too much time investigating various threads (I think there are 11 tree paths now).
Additionally, unlike the Khubla group, i watched the clock vigilantly and stopped them when they almost left a major clue behind. I knew the finale was going to be two hours so one way or another the group would get there.
Truly an awesome experience and a great way to retire my game from the con circuit. I'm offering it one more time outside of the con to some people who missed it (Jason F., Basil, Saul, Ezra D) and thereafter I think it's likely I'll just box it away but you never know some day I may pull it out again. It will be the seventh time running the game if I end up doing it for said group.
In the meantime I'll be working on Part 2 of the Searcher series but I doubt I will offer it anytime before Khubla. For Dundracon and likely Khubla I'll be offering a Teen Age Horror/Slasher “B” movie game based on the DREAD RPG which uses no dice but instead a Jenga Tower.After running something dark and serious at cons for over a year I want to do something lighter and with lots of laughs.
So the highlights for me were:
- Giving a lot of extra time to the finale (I haven't done that since the playtest when it was only a five hour game);
- Having an “A” experience as this was my last time offering it up at a con;
- What Jason did to Chris (even though Dovi reversed it with his story chip);
- The overall awesome roleplaying by the group as a whole
- Dovi telling me I was able to keep Chris awake longer than expected as he had narcolepsy
- Laughing crazily with Mike G
- Gil narrating he died
- Dovi and Jason going at it (as usual, apparently)
- The results of the deadly first fight
- Being told the ten hour game didn't drag by multiple playersNEUTRAL: there were some other paths the players were exploring but it would have required another hour or two and I didn't want to push the group past the listed 3am. Matt S. would be proud of me! Woot!
SUNDAY MORNING --- Mike G's DIASPORA game
A distant planet now 22 light years away beckons to you, but your ship is dying
and you still have 110 years left in your journey. You could ask your sister ship
for help, but you know they won't jeopardize their mission to save you, your crew,
or your friends and family in cold sleep. What choices will you make? Who dies,
who is saved, and who will make the ultimate sacrifice?
DIASPORA is an RPG in which you are a traveling colony looking for an “Earth like” planet to colonize. You play part of the skeleton crew seeking out a planet (the rest of you are in stasis because energy is limited on the ship) and typically obstacles appear in getting to the planet or the different groups on the ships decide their faction is going to rule over the other groups.